Hong Kong police issued citizens with fixed penalty tickets for violating the coronavirus ban on gatherings in Yuen Long on Tuesday night, as dozens staged a sit-in at a shopping mall to mark nine months since protesters and train passengers were indiscriminately attacked by a white-clad mob.
At Yoho Mall, next to the Yuen Long MTR station where the attack took place last July, protesters dressed in black chanted slogans and held flags that read “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times.”
A total of 45 people were injured last year – including journalists, protesters, commuters and pro-democracy lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting – as over 100 rod-wielding men stormed the station. The police were accused as colluding with the attackers by arriving at the scene late and failing to make any arrests that night.
According to local media, around 40 people had gathered at the mall by 8.30pm on Tuesday. Security guards had urged protesters to “keep proper social distance,” as the government had imposed a ban on gatherings of more than four people last month in a bid to curb the coronavirus outbreak.
The crowd in the mall dispersed at around 9 pm.
A large group of riot police stationed in Yuen Long conducted stop and search actions around the district. At around 10 pm, a group of teenagers were stopped by officers on a footbridge near the shopping mall.
The police had marked down their personal information and issued fixed penalty tickets to the group for allegedly breaching the gathering ban. Some of the ticketed citizens told reporters that the officers had stopped them and asked them to stand in groups of five with people who they did not know. They said they would lodge a complaint.
According to Yuen Long District Councillor Tommy Cheung, riot police on Yau San Street – where a blue warning flag was raised – had told the crowd to disperse, otherwise they could be penalised for violating the gathering prohibition. Earlier, the police also warned citizens to leave the scene, claiming that they could be taking part in an unauthorised assembly.
More people were ticketed near Fau Tsoi Street and Yau San Street, including two men who claimed to be first aid volunteers. One of them said to reporters at the scene that he was buying a takeaway, adding that he would consider asking the eatery to provide security footage as proof.
Another male citizen told RTHK that he was walking his dog alone, and the officers did not explain why they gave him a ticket.
“My dog was with me, I don’t think I have to explain I was walking my dog,” the man said. He added: “[The police] did not accept any explanation, [they] said if I had any explanation I should tell the court.”